Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sex Scenes Are Hard (Part One)

For this month's Scriptorium roundtable posts, we asked a question of each writer. You probably clicked to read this article because of the title. We will not disappoint you. This month's question is:

Do you write sex scenes? Why or why not?

It proved to be a hard question. Ah ha. Ha. Ha.

Fiona Skye says:

I don't publish sex scenes.

It's not because I'm a prude. It's not because I'm a hoity-toity artiste who's too good for that nonsense. And it's certainly not because I don't think a little sexy time doesn't have its place in fiction.

I don't publish sex scenes because fading to black and allowing the readers to use their imaginations to picture what my characters are doing is more titillating, more tantalizing, more intriguing than any black and white description could be. There is no way that a sex scene, with its awkward euphemisms for body parts (and occasional outright vulgarities), myriad sighs and moans, and ridiculous adjectives to describe an orgasm, is better than what the reader has experienced in his or her own lives. The reader taking from that experience and applying it to what he or she is reading is what really makes my work come alive.

And okay, maybe it is a little because I'm a prude. I can't help it. It's how I was raised.

Matt Green says:

I have written hardly any sex scenes! I tried my hand and writing erotica once and never revisited it. That's not to say I do not greatly enjoy it, though, and attempting to put together another one intrigues me.

As with all things, my first steps are going to be research! My fiance has provided me with an excellent selection of texts to broaden my understanding of how works of quality are accomplished. I also plan to solicit recommendations from other Scriptors, as I gather they are also more well-versed in the genre than I am.

If I do this right, what I produce will incorporate intriguing, well developed characters who have crazy hot sex.

Jen Ponce says:

Why did I start reading romance books when I was 14? For the sex, of course. Sure, some of the books had great stories, neat history facts gussied up as story, great characters that I loved, but mostly it was the sex. My mom knew it, too, and tried to ban them from the house. Yeah, like that worked. 

I expanded my reading to other genres but I have to say, I still think the best books have the best sex scenes. What can I say?

I've read a lot of sex scenes and because of that, I know what I like and don't like and can even articulate it. Here, let me show you: 

I love a great sex scene. Sometimes I love them because they are funny, clumsy, silly, or downright outrageous. I love them when they are perverted or sweet, crass or emotional, one paragraph or ten pages long. 

I don't like sex scenes that are timid or apologetic (unless it's the characters being timid and apologetic, that's different.) I don't like sex scenes that don't fit the story. If both characters are balls-to-the-walls perverts and they have sweet sex, I ain't buying it (unless it's part of the story/character development.) And the inverse is true as well. Don't give me two uptight sticks who don't even curse and then have them act out a scene from Deep Throat.

The important thing to remember when you're writing sex scenes is to keep the story moving forward. Ask yourself:

How does this develop my characters?

How does this move my plot forward?

What can I reveal in this moment, that changes the relationship between these two people?

I will read sex all day long if the story moves within it. Don't be shy. Let your characters bump uglies. Let me in there to see what happens. Show me who they are with their clothes off. Don't shut the door unless that's the genre you're writing. (If you write all day long about people hacking each other's heads off and then you shut the door on the sex, I shall be highly annoyed with you. Just saying.)

So, do I write sex scenes? It's probably obvious by now. I do. I enjoy writing them as much as I love reading them, both sweet and sexy, naughty and goofy, and all the stuff in between or on either side.

M.A. Ray says:

Yes, I write sex scenes.

I write them because they’re an important character tool; how two (or more, or fewer) people behave with each other when clothing is optional shows who they are in a very fundamental way.

I write them because I generally don’t hold back on the violence, and don’t see why I should hold back on sex. It’s just naked people. Nobody’s losing limbs or lives (we hope). 

I write them because they turn me on, and I want to see if I can tweak my readers’ nethers like I tweak their tear ducts.

I write them because they’re difficult for me. A well-written sex scene is a thing of beauty. If I can do that, I can do anything (or so I tell myself). It’s a challenge.

I write them because I like to read them, and I want to write books I enjoy reading. That's flat.

Do you write sex scenes? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments! And tune in next time for more answers from the Scriptors!


  1. Hmm. I very, very rarely read erotica. I think the reason is that it's very seldom done well. I hate clumsy efforts to avoid saying 'dick' or 'penis'. Most of all, I don't read erotica because the run-of-the-mill sex scene is nothing more than a boring porn video turned into prose. I don't like porn because it's not real. For instance, the guys can last long enough to cause endless orgasms, but the vast majority of real guys can't. The porn guys can last all day and not even work up a sweat, and can avoid the cum until the director says 'cut'. The girls can go forever and never run dry. It usually takes a lot of practice to pull off a deep throat, but I see all these virgins having a ball with it the first time out. It's just not real, so I can't identify. Write a sex scene with characters experiencing some passion like actual people do, or don't, and you have a good sex scene. Oh, and be sure to mention the wet spot.

    1. Oh yes, include a bit of humor and give the dick a nickname like so many do, especially inexperienced newlyweds. Oh, I forget, there aren't many unskilled newlyweds these days. Maybe I'll write a short about old fashioned newlyweds.